No, it's not budget cutbacks that made us combine our stories for Friday and Saturday, but rather scheduling conflicts. Yet the compare-and-contrast essays we learned in middle school offer an excellent prism through which to view the Cardinals Friday and Saturday games at Coors Field.
The first one Friday was the prototype Big Bang Theory so common to Denver baseball, a 9-6 slugfest in favor of the Colorado Rockies, as the clubs combined for seven home runs.
The second, another polished Mile High performance by Adam Wainwright, resulted in a 3-1 Cards victory. And by evening up the series on Saturday, St. Louis assured at least a .500 road trip, as they finish up on Sunday before returning home to face Cincinnati.
Tight pitching, tight game, right result
It took some tightrope walking to secure the win on Saturday, as Andrew Miller and Ryan Helsley both recovered from two-on, one-out situations to preserve the eighth and ninth innings.
Helsley ended the game with a nifty double play on a sharp hopper to Kolten Wong's left, as he turned and delivered a perfect strike to shortstop Brad Miller, who nailed Ryan McMahon at first by a step.
Wainwright is one of the few non-Colorado pitchers who seems to have figured out the thin air; he still has not lost there, and his mighty 12-to-6 curveball appears unaffected. Saturday was no exception.
Despite time out of the rotation since the home opener two weeks earlier, Wainwright struck out six, walked only one, and induced seven ground balls in the same number of innings. The only run came on a David Dahl triple and Trevor Story sacrifice fly in the third.
"I can't quite explain," said Wainwright. "It's not bothered me. In fact, I pitch better here. Why? I know some other guys' stuff doesn't break here. For me, seems no different. If I knew why, I could teach them all and retire tomorrow."
Brad Miller's two-run homer in the sixth off starter German Marquez, with Lane Thomas on base, was the difference. The Cards added an insurance tally in the eighth, as Dylan Carlson grabbed his first hit in Coors with a double and then scored on pinch hitter Edmundo Sosa's single up the middle.
Kim rocked, Gray shines as Rockies take opener
Friday's game never was competitive, despite the final difference. The Cardinals found themselves in a 5-0 hole after two innings, and 7-1 after five. Only a four-spot in the eighth and a single run in the ninth brought them to within three runs at the end.
Kwang Hyun Kim, having won his previous start this season, simply could not adjust to Coors. He pretty much left everything up or out of the strike zone, and he was fittingly punished for it.
Ryan McMahon, Josh Fuentes and off-season Cards target Nolan Arenado pounded homers off Kim early, and Trevor Story added another in the fifth.